Ciao adios

Time to time, I feel the need to pour my thoughts onto the page, to empty the space within. I feel that if I kept them in, the thoughts start to absorb me, my ability to make clear decisions get diminished.

I am 27, I am going to become 28 in May, so only 2 years till I am 30.. It feels like a big age, 30. Like I should have another mindset, I can’t continue living with the flow, I need to have plan As and Bs. “Birth date doesn’t mean anything, you are the age you feel..” Although this and derivatives of this sentence echo in my ears, I think that society shapes the age we feel. The age of studying “He went back to uni at the age of 50, can you believe?!”, the age of marriage “She is 40 and still alone, I don’t think it will happen”, the age to have your first kid, the age to have your last kid, the age to start acting mature, the age to have your first sex, the age to buy a flat and settle down… These are just a few that pop up in my mind. And sometimes I question whether we are really free when our lives are shaped so much by the society and we crack under the pressure sometimes.

Recently, I took some decisions based on my well-being and happiness. Then, I realized that making a decision alone was not enough, I needed to convince my mind to stretch out those boundaries set by the society and really be OK to want to reach out for happiness. And I want to be strong enough not to change my mind on this..: I decided to LEAVE RESEARCH! Yes, not just academia, research altogether! After years of studying and taking up a postdoctoral position in one of the best places for microbiology, I have made up my mind. We will part ways in a friendly way, I still got 11 months to work with a bacterium I will always find fascinating and write about, discuss about, but I know that I can do greater things outside of the lab. It’s not my niche.. I truly enjoy singing along to the songs on the radio in my P2 room where I am lucky to work alone (:D) but I mean, the overall researcher profile.. it is just not me. I already knew that though, as a result of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test I did while applying for jobs after my PhD. I have an ESFJ-type character for which the career options didn’t include ‘a scientist’ profile, ooopppss.

In my free time (wrong expression! i believe that you can always free some time to do something that you really enjoy doing) nowadays, I am managing the social media platforms of the Young Researchers in Life Sciences Federation that I joined back in October and I am loving what I do. I feel more energetic and I find myself with constant desire to do something more, forcing my brain for creativity. I think my future possibilities started to take shape in my mind but I was still holding onto what the society would see more of a standard pathway as a possibility.. Applying to an internal postdoctoral fellowship at Institut Pasteur was what I put in my mind when I saw the opportunity a month after I arrived, and now the applications are open again. I didn’t apply last year because the position should start within 8 months after the results would be announced and it would have been useless for me as I had a 2 years contract. However, I really considered applying during this round, I even asked for bacterial strains and plasmids from my old lab to get some preliminary results and propose a project. Yesterday, I called my friend to ask whether I could go over and talk to her about this decision to apply or not, and two hours later I sent her a Whatsapp message to tell her that actually there is no need to meet, I know that I shouldn’t apply. This energy I feel while helping out to organize a conference.. Why postpone feeling it 2 more years? What about the happiness I get from writing blog posts? What about realizing that I could possibly sit in front of the computer in an office all day, as long as I had a nice chat during lunch break and good coffee afterwards? I have some replies but they are preformed answers stirred by the society pressure and they are not good enough for me.

‘So that I can stay in France two more years, and that makes 4 years of work in total, if I get another position, that will make more than 5 years, then I can apply for citizenship.’

‘Salary each month, it is hard to live in Paris!’

‘I can have more savings.’


I think, for me it is time to take some risks in the pursuit of a happier life even if that means being jobless until I figure out what I am gonna be great at and get the position I want. Plus, I know someone who deserves that fellowship to reach her dreams and I hope that I am increasing her chances of getting it slightly by not applying 🙂 🙂


P.S. This came up in my playlist, what a coincidence xD








Imagine all your fears ganging up and overwhelming you in your dreams night after night. Waking up with sore leg muscles because you were running away from a tsunami in your dream. Seeing an army ship, the type that is the base for jets to land on, just two seconds before hitting your building and not being able to catch your mom’s arm as the room collapses. The whole family missing a flight because you happened to tell them the wrong time. Sitting in one of the wooden desks from your primary school, about to take a social sciences exam and realizing you have not even turned a page to prepare for the exam. These were the kind of dreams I had in the last 1,5 weeks and I am now waking up with gratitude if I didn’t have any memorable dreams throughout the night 😀

Each storyline got a connection to a specific time of my life but why I’ve had these dreams one after another with a few days interval in between, that’s very puzzling.


A big earthquake (magnitude 7.6) hit the northwestern part of Turkey in August 1999 and wrecked many buildings in a few cities. It happened at night, so people were caught in their sleep and sadly they happened to be living in those apartment flats that were probably built very practically; by cutting down on the essentials and disregarding the safety requirements. Many people died. I was 9 years old and my dad was working at the capital city of Turkey at the time, so my mom and I were the only ones in our flat on the 5th floor. The evening before that night I was unwell, I had a weird stomachache and could vomit any moment, so I slept with my mom. Just seconds before the earthquake started, I woke up with a really sharp pain in my stomach and woke my mom up, and then it was as if we were on a boat fighting the waves.. We hid under the door frame until it was all over and run downstairs right after. After this disaster, we slept in an open field near my grandparents’ apartment for two nights, there were many families, people were scared, but I felt safe because my mom was there. I slept while adults chatted throughout the night and greeted the new days wide awake.


It was my first year in Germany and I wasn’t familiar with the concept of 30 credits requirement from “other school electives” or “university studies courses” to be able graduate from my uni which promoted this interdisciplinarity. I asked two people -whom graduated from my high school in Turkey and came to study at this uni a few years before me- with the hope that they would give me the best advice. Both of them told me to take this European history class with the funny American professor, so I did. Things were OK at first, I was reading the corresponding sections from the thick reader he proposed as our study material and learning about European history that we were never taught in Turkey until my lab practicals started.. Suddenly I had no time to read dozens of pages and the inevitable happened. The professor asked 4 questions each worth 25 points in the final exam and from the 15-15-15-10 pattern I got, I assume that my answers were not as detailed as he has expected. Who can blame me? Back in school all we learned was Ottoman Empire!


A typical summer day in my childhood my mom and I were at the seaside although it was a windy day and the sea looked scary. Neither my mom nor I liked the chaos the waves were creating but that day we decided to go in the water anyway. One moment I was standing, the next, I was knocked down by a wave and I fell towards my mom also causing her to collapse. When I emerged from the water my mom was still trying to get up and when she got up, I could see that she was out of breath. What if she was out of breath a bit longer?!… It hurt so much to think.


Missing a flight is a seeded fear in all those who are not rich and whose finances would really be affected by paying a few hundred euros/dollars/pounds for a last minute ticket, and perhaps my brain was tired to come up with special effects thus it got mixed in ^^


Despite waking up tired due to all the action going on in my dreams recently, I am quite intrigued. Why am I dreaming so much now? Why are all the stories leading to stress? Why am I facing my fears as a collection? Am I going to fear something bigger than the combination of these soon, is this an exercise?




As I finished rereading “Many Lives Many Masters”, I felt better.. In addition to the pieces of wisdom I noted throughout the book, I sat down and scribbled concepts that I need to work on, not only in 2018 but in the rest of my life. It went on like this: (un)fairness, trust, perfectionism, forgiveness, anger…

Now when I am encountered with a situation that triggers numerous emotions some of which are in my list, I take a step back (maybe let a little bit of my natural emotion out, there is a leak :P) and try to come up with a reaction which is much more positive.

It is just a few days into 2018 and I am already feeling much better and I can laugh again. I think it was that moment when I told my doctor “I don’t feel happy anymore.” that the decision was made somewhere…… in my body. I don’t know whether it was my heart or mind that wouldn’t accept or my shoulder and arm which were suffering due to nervous pain, my whole body protested against this person who didn’t feel happy and couldn’t laugh anymore.

I didn’t spend days laying in my bed, contemplating. With an unfamiliar wisdom, I started to pinpoint the causes. It was like the dissection assignments in biology classes. While I was thinking about one cause, playing it in my head, more things came attached, but in the core was one and that one I needed to start working on immediately to find my way back to happiness: PERFECTIONISM.

I don’t know what pushes people towards perfectionism, I cannot figure out when I became a perfectionist, but I know that life has become so much more difficult since. Extra stress, extra pressure, postponing things that I like doing because I wasn’t yet so good at them or not being able to move on from something to another because it wasn’t satisfying enough based on my standards..Then, the little I could tick off on my list of many things to do having an image of my efficient, super motivated self who has done so much all at the same time in the past in my mind, the guiltier I felt. I’ve fallen into a black hole. I started liking myself less and less because I couldn’t follow up the things I was passionate about. When I had more free time, how could I be doing much less than in the past? I started to look for an excuse. Perhaps, I used up most of my energy already and maybe I needed to rest? However, I couldn’t just watch movies all weekend or be out with friends every evening. These actions were followed by guilt. I didn’t know how to stop it.

I would either do something giving everything I’ve got or I wouldn’t do it at all. I didn’t know how to be OK with whatever I produce being average in my head. Eventually, my desires to do the things I love burned down and turned into ashes and my mind started to fill up with disapproval of my actions. Maybe when nobody was judging, I’ve been the harshest critics of my work. For instance, my blog, Sturdy Microbes that I started eagerly suffered from my perfectionism. I’ve spent days wanting to write but ending up postponing because I didn’t have hours to spend creating ‘perfect’ posts with all the information I wanted to put in.

My perfectionism has been ruining me little by little over a long period of time.

The old me would spend quite a lot of time to find a perfect ending to this post and perhaps even postpone it. The new me, after noticing the inclination:



Happiness Jar

you look at a photo and think ‘I haven’t seen myself this happy in a while..’
i am following Elizabeth Gilbert‘s recommendation of writing at least one source of happiness per day (although I haven’t bought a jar yet, agenda suffices for now) and it feels amazing to have a few reasons for the day!
i must shortly mention here that I am a postdoc at Institut Pasteur in Paris since 3 weeks, eekk!
if your own smile soothes you, I think your heart is happy and that’s one of the signs from the universe assuring you that you are doing something right in somewhere right.. so i am grateful for this photo:
then there is this guy who makes me feel so blessed on my way to Pasteur in the metro. as you change from RER B to Line 6 in the direction Etoile in Denfert Rochereau, he sits there and plays his harp. i bought his CD this morning despite not even knowing how to ask ‘how much’ in French. He is called Pascal Coulon, I wish I had access to his website too, maybe it is temporarily down, have a look:
I went up 300 narrow steps to see Paris from the Dome of the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre today, and after the breathtaking view,
i found these guys
singing next to the basilica. when we got out of the dome they were singing ‘Stand by Me’, then they sang a song the lyrics of which I couldn’t understand, and just when I was about to leave, they started to sing ‘Hallelujah’.. Memories of the University of Nottingham and the A Cappella Soc came rushing in and of course I was singing my lungs out 🙂 🙂
Such a memorable day!